City Bakery
Cassandra Stiltner
Want to know who made the great bread you had at that restaurant last night? Odds are good that it was City Bakery, the bakery and dessert-a-teria started last year by freaky bread savant Michael Bortz. Bortz started out in Denver as an independent, then went corporate as a baker for Paradise Bakery when the chain started making some serious moves in town. And then he went indie again, taking most of his wholesale contracts with him. The result is a bakery that supplies the best bread in the city to some of the best restaurants in the city, seven days a week. Baking isn't an easy job, so we're lucky to have Bortz looking out for us. If we had to, we really could live on bread — his bread — alone.
Big Hoss Bar-B-Q
No other BBQ joint can touch the shrimp at Big Hoss — and we can't keep our hands off them. Served in a trough and doused with Hoss Orwat's special sauce, they're as close as you can come in Denver to the taste of the vinegar-sharp and spice-shot barbecue of the South Carolina tidewater region. And once you're done with the shrimp, pour the rest of that thin sauce over a plate of pulled pork brought naked from the kitchen. An order or two of shrimp, a couple PBRs off the tap, maybe a side of fried cheese and a Jim-Beam-and-Coke float for dessert, and you're well on your way to another memorable night at Hoss Orwat's house.
Yazoo Barbeque Company
Cassandra Kotnik
Small place, big flavor. Sometimes we crave Yazoo's amazing pulled pork, at other times its ribs. But once when we stopped in for ribs, the tiny kitchen was out, so indeed we got a BOB — chicken breast wrapped in bacon and jalapeños. then smoked — and almost died from pleasure right on the spot. In fact, the only problem with Yazoo is that it sells out of certain things so quickly that we can't always get what we happen to be craving at that moment. But that's not a very big problem, because there's always another great option. Adding a second outlet down south has helped expand supply, but we remain faithful to the small downtown spot, which just keeps pouring out that big, big flavor.
Bacon is already cured. In some cases, it's even smoked before it ever makes it to your table. So why not barbecue it again, Korean style? At Han Kang, a big plate of raw bacon, cut into easy-to-eat chunks, is brought to the table with one of those propane-fired portable grills. Throw on the pork, let it cook, and prepare to pig out. (The menu says this is a dish for sharing, but if you've ever wanted to eat an entire pound of bacon by yourself, Han Kang is definitely the place.) A bowl of garlic oil comes with the bacon, but a spread of alien side dishes also arrives with every order, ensuring new taste treats with every bacon-y bite.

Best BBQ in the Last Place You'd Expect It

Jim 'N Nick's

Jim 'n Nick's Bar-B-Q
Hunter Stevens
It's not odd to find good barbecue in Aurora, but it is unexpected to stumble across good barbecue in a gigantic outdoor mall. Because who in their right mind would go to a spot like Southlands looking for pulled pork and cornbread? And who would imagine that you could not only find it here, but you could get that good 'cue from a drive-thru? While the location may be weird, it's also welcome when you're driving around the 'burbs and the pork jones hits. Because Jim 'N Nick's takes its barbecue very seriously. Everything is made from scratch, and the 'cue goes through a twelve-hour smoke. And if your diet needs a little more starch, order the Pig in the Potato Patch, a baked potato loaded down with smoked bacon, butter, sour cream, cheese, barbecue sauce and more pulled pork. This spud's for you.
Big Papa's BBQ
On the best days, you can smell Big Papa's from across the parking lot. On the best days, you somehow manage to sneak in between the rushes and be out of the place in ten minutes, tops, with an order of Denver's best ribs. But even on bad days, those ribs are good enough to turn everything else around.

Best Big-Ass Burger With a Side of Rock and Roll

The Counter

The Counter
The Counter is a concept restaurant, a pure product of the 21st century, of the fast-casual boom and West Coast culture. The interior is spare and spartan; the staff wears blue jeans and tattoo-art-inspired shirts. The art on the walls is black and white, with a rock-and-roll theme. And the burgers? They're huge and bloody and sold sushi-bar style, with a slip of paper and a pencil so that you can choose from among a plethora of artful and interesting toppings. And then enjoy a bottle of beer or glass of wine while you wait for the mad-scientist burger of your dreams.
Watercourse Foods
Danielle Lirette
It's a measure of how far this city has come in the pursuit of dangerously untested culinary thrills (the eating of seitan, the serving of meals made of nothing but vegetables, creating a Buffalo wing made of tofu, which does not have wings) that a place like WaterCourse Foods — where all of these high-wire gastronomical games are played daily — now attracts more than just a dedicated clientele of twig-and-berry vegetarians, vegans and other ascetics. Although the restaurant can still look like a game preserve for the final holdouts of Denver's chipmunk-hugging Earth lovers, it's attracting a growing crowd of diverse diners — many of whom have a common goal: breakfast. Granted, a breakfast here must be eaten sans bacon, ham, hash or sausage (the four primary elements of any proper breakfast equation), but if you must go pig-free, WaterCourse is the place to go.

Best Breakfast Among the Hipsters

Snooze

Snooze
Lauren Monitz
Snooze has answered its wake-up call and settled into a vibe where the food is as good as the concept and decor, as nicely made-up as most of the customers clamoring for a table during the weekend breakfast rush. This is one of the very few spots in the city where hipsters go to see and be seen before noon on a Sunday. But they also pay attention to what's on their plates, because Snooze features a nicely modern American breakfast menu, well prepared and presented, with just enough oddness and quirks (breakfast tacos, pulled pork Benedicts and corned beef hash done in ring molds) to ensure that the food doesn't get swept away in the wash of design, style and attitude.
Santiago's Mexican Restaurant
Cassandra Kotnik
We've eaten a lot of breakfast burritos over the years. We've eaten what some people might consider a truly shocking number of breakfast burritos. And every time we're put on the spot and asked, straight out, for the best breakfast burrito in Denver, our answer is always the same: Santiago's. This homegrown chain offers a wonderful way to start the day: thin burritos, foil-wrapped and packed for eating on the go. A Santiago's chorizo-and-egg breakfast burrito is perhaps the truest expression of why we love living (and eating) in Denver — or, at the very least, it's an excellent reason for getting out the door before 11 a.m., when all nineteen Santiago's outlets stops serving the best breakfast burrito in Denver.

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